The Brilliant History of Color in Art - Victoria Finlay

With commentary as elegant as the images are sumptuous, The Brilliant History of Color in Art (Getty, $24.95) shows its own brilliance in myriad ways. Just as “color” indicates a spectrum of shades, its history charts the courses of changing technologies, surfaces, materials, and images. Telling a broad story of culture, Victoria Finlay, author of the classic Color: A Natural History of the Palette, ranges from caves to cathedrals to iPads, soot and chalk to synthetic paints and digital pixels, revealing the origins and uses of pigments. Along the way, she leaves a trail of fascinating facts, like—well, bread crumbs, which were the original erasers for pencils. She also introduces the people behind the names, such as Benjamin Day, whose namesake dots animate comics. And the iconic blue of the Virgin Mary’s robes? The color came not from Biblical associations but from the valuable pigment of lapis. But working with colors has always been like playing with fire; to get a basic manganese black required heating rocks to 1650 degrees F. The most luminous white entailed the risks of working with lead, while Scheele’s green contained arsenic—the cause of several deaths and suspected (it was in his bedroom wallpaper) in Napoleon’s. Yet colors also soothe the soul, and it’s telling that medieval and Renaissance artists got their pigments from apothecaries, color and medicine sharing the same ingredients.
The Brilliant History of Color in Art By Victoria Finlay Cover Image
ISBN: 9781606064290
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: J. Paul Getty Museum - November 1st, 2014

J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free - David Blayney Brown, Amy Concannon, Sam Smiles

J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free (Getty, $49.95) examines the later years of the great Victorian artist’s career. From 1835 to 1850, when he stopped exhibiting his work, Turner grew less reliant on description and instead emphasized the dynamism of light and color, producing watercolors and oil paintings of magnificent seas and skies, floods and storms. With its apparent gestures to Impressionism, Expressionism, and Abstraction, this is work that segues easily into the movements that would follow, but in the essays accompanying the images, David Blayney Brown, Amy Concannon, curators at the Tate, and the University of Exeter’s Sam Smiles maintain that Turner’s freedom of application and abandonment of rigorous detail was a continuation of his artistic investigation into perception and its limitations, not the invention of a radical new style. This volume chronicles a most fascinating period of Turner’s career with vivid illustrations and captivating text.